by Alex Gonzalez
Picture yourself having bought a new Kia with the money that you worked so hard and saved up for, just for your car to get broken into and stolen and later found the next day with everything gone besides the trash that the thieves left inside. You do the logical thing by going to your local police station, and they are unable to do anything about it only to report it as stolen. Even after this notorious trend on social media known as “Kia Boys” was gaining popularity by people stealing Kias and Hyundais committing more crimes in stolen cars. With recent criminal activity involving one or multiple people going into stores and stealing valuable items off the shelves, this has come to be known as a smash and grab or sometimes mass looting. Prop 47, also known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act went into effect on November 5th, 2014. It raises the limit on what classifies as a felony and misdemeanor by anything under $950 in crimes such as theft or drug possession. This is essentially just a warning for the criminals who have already failed to be law-abiding citizens. There are ways that this issue can be addressed and some of them are in progress to either fix or repeal Prop 47 and be done with it altogether. The number of larceny crimes in California has risen to 577,733 in 2022 compared to 541,368 the year prior in 2021.
There is a sense that nothing can be done to criminals who shoplift in stores. The reason why that may be is because of the large crowds that come in and steal items in the masses. The criminals are not phased by the security who can only report to the police or the security tags that trigger alarms. Large masses of stealing are being called “smash and grab” or “flash mob” and this has occurred at the Topanga Mall, where over $300,000 worth of merchandise was stolen from the shelves and racks at Nordstrom inside the mall. This not only affects the stores but also the people who shop and pay for their items as they will have more items locked on shelves or plastic lock boxes.
The spike in crime has become a burden for stores and it will affect businesses as it has in the past. Stores, both big and small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open when they keep taking profit hits on missing inventory due to theft or destruction of their products. Some stores found it better just to shut down their businesses altogether. Target being one of the big businesses that are shutting down stores to combat this issue, has begun doing so in San Francisco. Not only does this hurt businesses from wanting to open up shop in California but this also affects the consumers who depend on buying from them due to their convenience or lower prices.
These stores shutting down are affecting the labor force of those areas causing unemployment to increase leaving many not able to provide for themselves or their families. Small stores can become even more vulnerable due to having a higher dependability on the profits they need to make in order to maintain paying their bills and providing for their families. A blow in sales due to missing inventory can hurt companies such as Target and they will still be okay but if it happens to a small business that is operated by a handful of people, then it starts to increase the number of businesses closing down. When the loss of anything under $950 is deemed not too serious, it can affect the livelihoods of people already struggling to make ends meet.
Prop 47 is called the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act”, and its purpose is to invest in programs for schools as well as fund mental health aid programs. Funds can be generated by increasing taxes on businesses as they are guaranteed safety for their customers and employees. California is already notorious for the high cost of living, and it would make sense to ensure the safety of its citizens and tourists. If a company has a low-employment to high-profit ratio, we should be taxing those companies as they are raking in higher profit margins and capitalizing more due to lower labor costs. Having more people employed can expand the number of people whom we can tax. Lawmakers are proving counterproductive when it comes to saving money and raising funds for other programs because they are losing money from taxing companies and those people who work. If companies can’t stay open in California, then people are out of jobs and that poses a risk of people being homeless. This ultimately dries up the well and the flow of wealth in California if companies are closing down in California. If this proposition continues to be in effect, allocating funds for school and mental health programs will be dwarfed by the need to provide government aid to families struggling to make a living. In the Star Trek movie: The Wrath of Khan, Spock says “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of many outweigh the needs of the few.” This is a bigger problem that can and is affecting everyone, we cannot have a relaxed approach when it comes to policies on the justice system.
Repealing Prop 47 would have to be done in an organized fashion so it wouldn’t leave a hole in the programs that need funds. My plan would be to repeal Proposition 47 and raise the budget of police funding to further drive out crime in California. The initiative that I would set out would be to increase the recruitment of police in areas that are in need of more personnel. This would not increase in officers, but it would help prevent any police shortages in the future by making it an appealing career with higher pay and better benefits with better hours. The reason I addressed better hours is because, with more police in California, there will be more people to fill in shifts and the police wouldn’t have to be stretched out so thin with their personnel. In the Bay Area, it was reported that one officer has made over two million dollars from overtime altogether over the years. Barry Bloom is a police officer who makes an average of $123,790 annually and has made $530,935 in overtime in 2022 with an average of 95 hours per week. Working 95 hours a week is the equivalent of working two full-time jobs with overtime as there are 168 hours. Instead of having one person make that much in an understaffed profession, California should be expanding on the opportunities for more people to earn an annual salary of $123k instead of one officer becoming the 1% from working overtime due to being understaffed. This shows California’s government is not willing to take on crime at the root source and provide more funding for the increase in theft. We shouldn’t be putting our police in this situation where they can’t do anything due to the relaxed law that restricts them from providing the safety and well-being of people and their belongings.
The police over the years have been heavily scrutinized due to their questionable methods of handling people. To further fund the police, we must also hold those officers accountable to make sure that none are abusing their powers. Like NCIS is for the Department of the Navy, I would propose creating a separate entity to investigate officers as reporting about an officer to another police officer has led to a conflict of interest and may be mishandled properly. This would help give suitable punishments for officers who have been in violation of their own rules, especially when it comes to excessive force. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) has been the law in the military across all the branches and it would be great to make sure the officers are held to a similar code of conduct. Making sure officers are trained properly and held to higher standards instead of the lack of discipline and abuse of power some have shown in the past would be the goal. This will be the balance of keeping the police in check and the protection plan for citizens to ensure that the law has a strong presence. This should give officers a sense of responsibility as it is not only their names that the news channel reports about in the headlines but also the branch of the police that they serve.
This is the solution the repeal crime and to further the safety of us and our belongings. These are serious issues companies must face when it comes to dealing with the high crime in California. The severity of the crimes shows us that criminals have no fear of the law because of Proposition 47 and the lack of recruitment for police officers. The closures of stores not only affect the companies, it hurts the employees who have and will be laid off if this proposition to incentivize theft and other crimes continues. Having the police supervised to ensure there is law and order being done correctly creates a sense of trust between the people as well as having safer streets and more police officers patrolling all over California. With a supervising force to observe and take reports on police officers from citizens, it leaves room to develop and grow our police force and make it appealing again to become a police officer and make a career out of it. This would be the solution and proposition that Californians, both business owners and consumers need to live in a safe and prosperous State that looks out for the safety of its citizens.
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